Monday, December 06, 2010

Our very own Huntington Beach Absolutely Fabulous is named a top U.S. ‘Gifted Retailer’

(posted by Jan Norman, small-business columnist, December 4th, 2010, 4:00 am · 9 Comments)
Absolutely Fabulous — yes that really is the name of the shop — has been named one of the top three “visual merchandisers” in the nation by Gifts and Decorative Accessories magazine. For those of you unfamiliar with retail lingo, that means the Huntington Beach gift shop is one of those places that always looks and feels great for shoppers. Absolutely Fabulous owner Diane Silverstein, right, with store designer Brett Richardson Now, on top of that award, Absolutely Fabulous is one of 25 retailers nationwide, and the only one in California, featured in the magazine’s November “25 Gifted Retailers” edition.

Owner Diane Silverstein says she entered the publication’s annual contest in April and was notified by Facebook that her shop was a winner. “We went to New York in August to get the award…but I didn’t know anything about the ‘Gifted Retailers’ (spread) until I got the magazine in the mail.
“This is more special to me because it takes everyone in the store working as a team to pull it off,” she adds. Silverstein credits the shop’s great looks, in part, to an August expansion into the adjacent shop that has not only given Absolutely Fabulous more room to merchandize, from 1,100 square feet to 2,700 square feet, but an easier-to-find front door. “The added window space has brought in so many new, wonderful people,” she says.

Store designer Brett Richardson “has an innate ability to transfer his and our personalities onto the floor of our store. We carry so much product, that he has the constant struggle of getting the stuff out without cluttering the store. And obviously, he’s doing a great job,” Silverstein says. Not many small businesses have been expanding in the recession and slow recovery, but Silverstein says, “It has made a huge difference because what makes people come in are the visual delights they see in the window. It’s like New York City 20 years ago.”

Silverstein, born in England, was a nurse specializing in spinal cord injuries for 20 years until she hurt her own back and had three surgeries. She didn’t work for eight years. In 2006 she drove past the Warner Avenue and Springdale Street intersection, saw a “for lease” sign and decided to open a gift and decor shop. “I don’t buy things you can find in other retailers within a certain geographic area,” she says. “Everyone carries Russ cuddly toys; I do Bearington (bears). We have a price point of $5 up to $8,000 so everyone can find something in their price range. And it’s all displayed beautifully.”

Absolutely Fabulous hosts art nights every few months to raise money for children’s charities and Silverstein serves champagne every afternoon. She also comes up with fun events. Currently the shop has an “ugly sweater” contest until Dec. 10. The winner will receive a $50 store gift certificate.

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